I was horrified to discover at the weekend that one of my Loro Piana Roadster sweaters had a moth hole in. Two, in fact. Despite the various moth products and regular airing. The experience, however, had an upside.

I believe in buying high-quality products, looking after them well and being rewarded with years of superior comfort and style. Little gives me greater satisfaction, therefore, than extending the life of something through my own efforts. With the Roadster, I managed to achieve a decent darning of both the holes. The surface is not perfect, but the small imperfection almost gives the sweater greater character – like subtle colour variation on shoe leather from years of sweat and rain.

This philosophy has much in common with the so-called English country house look. Usually applied to upholstery and other interior decoration, it revels in the natural ageing, untidiness and natural comfort of well-worn items, including clothes. Prince Charles’s patched Cleverley shoes and box of spare cloth at Anderson & Sheppard come to mind.

It is usually the beauty of leather that gets me: an aged watch strap, a battered but not dried out attaché, the patina of the aforementioned shoe. But wool and indeed some forms of cotton (like canvas) can become more beautiful with age. Cardboard too. For more on this theme, search on the blog for ‘How great things age’.

As to the darning, I will not discuss the technique in detail because it is best explained by video. There is a good one on YouTube here. But I will say that it is best to take your time, not overstitch (it can make the area too stiff) and make sure you keep the spare thread that often comes with good knitwear. The biscuit-coloured cashmere I had kept and used on my Roadster was an absolute pleasure to use, and I don’t think anything else would have had the same effect.
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Anonymous

‘New’ and ‘perfect’ are over-rated. Old favourites deserve loving repairs.

But a word about moths, and prevention:

First of all, if you see the little buggers flitting around, you already have damage. These are not newcomers, but rather hatchlings that, as larvae, have been dining on your cashmere*.

A few fortunate individuals never seem to have problems, whilst others, despite earnest efforts, are unable to defeat the enemy. (I don’t know the circumstances. Climate, altitude, humidity?)

There is no such thing as a moth repellant.

The best defense is scent that OVERPOWERS scent of wool that moths can detect. (Placing a small block of cedar in the sock drawer is not going to do it. Ditto, cedar coat hangers. Even a cedar closet loses its pungency over time.) Of all the natural scents, researchers determined that Lavender is the best deterrent. (I assume they mean dried blooms, crushed to release fragrance.)

From my experience, natural essential oils (often sold a “aroma therapy”) are more effective…. drizzled over an open container of pot-pourri to maximize diffusion. Best in a contained space; closet, etc. However none will succeed if potency is not regularly refreshed.

Whatever the scent, it permeates your woolens, so with that in mind, choose something you can live with. My preferences: Citronella, Evergreen, Eucalyptus, Lavender. Would recommend avoiding synthetic fragrances. Bad imitations of pine and lavender smell like public restrooms.

As for moth traps, (supposedly baited with pheromones) I’ve not had much luck.

When all of the above has failed, take Simon’s advice. Darn it!

* Any hair, wool or feather item.

Roger

I’ve also recently darned a jumper, and luckily I learned this from my grandmother who did everyone’s woollen socks. I won’t say I’m as good as she was, but I can do it and it’s satisfying.

Mothballs DO work as a fumigant for larvae and adult moths. The concentrated fumes of balls (especially the older Naphthalene) in a closed environment does destroy larvae. I’ve also found the lavender to work, up until I find out otherwise anyway.

It’s a three-step thing, cleaning before storing, ensuring enough fumigation to kill off any larvae, and periodic checking to replenish any fumigant and inspect for larvae.
Shaking and a cursory look is a mistake, the larvae cocoons stick to the fabric with a glue-like substance.

They are going for microscopic and visible particles on natural fibres, not just the wool. What may look like a dry stain to human eyes is a source of moisture to a moth. Which is why spot cleaning is not always effective.

Anonymous

Simon

My mom suggesed pepper in a small cotton bag, in my experience that works, I used to live in Lima which is as humid as London.

A better option is placing soap bars in your drawers, sounds strange but works, just be carefull with the scent otherwise you will smell funny.

Have a nice weekend.

Juan Manuel

Anonymous

I don’t know if you, Simon, still answer questions related too old articles but I am in need of some advice. Or perhaps a reader could advice.

As a tall, and rather slim gentleman I am having tremendous difficulties in finding sweaters with a good fit.

Could anyone point me to a manufacturer who caters to people of my statute?

Many thanks in advance,

Swedish George (or Göran, as we say over here)

Part Time Jobs

I totally agree with you. There is nothing better than giving your own style to your clothes, I think that gives a lot more personality to the clothes if the modified yourself. Others think it’s a fool to stop using something just because it has a hole, while this can be fixed, we enjoy a little more time our favorite sweater.

Tish

You mention The Roadster in connection with darning a cashmere sweater and say that the video shows how. But I’ve searched your site for references to “The Roadster” and never come up with a video. I’ve also searched Google. No luck. Would love to know how to deal with the ‘after the fact’ discovery that the moths have struck again.